Category Archives: Lebanon

To Control Mosquitoes, We Must Dispose of Trash Correctly

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The Environment Minister tweeted today that “the rise in the number of mosquitoes is the result of higher seasonal temperatures and a environment embracing bugs”. While we all are aware of that fact, someone should also remind the Minister that we need to keep our cities clean and get rid of any standing water or uncovered trash to control flies and mosquitoes.

Uncovered trash is all a mosquito needs to start a family, so imagine what hundreds of tons of uncovered piles of trash over a 9 month period can do.

I think we need to start a petition the soonest to introduce the “In-Denial” ministry.

Beirut Meets F1 on May 22!

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Earlier yesterday, LiveLoveBeirut shared a picture of a Red Bull F1 car spotted spinning in Beirut. The picture was actually taken from a Red Bull Showrun in Lima, Peru and it was just a teaser for the live F1 Showrun that is taking place in Beirut on Sunday May 22nd.

You heard me right! Beirut’s F1 Showrun is happening soon and it’s gonna be awesome! I’m a huge F1 fan so this is very exciting news for myself and all F1 and motorsports fanatics in Lebanon. F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr, son of rally legend Carlos Sainz, will take Red Bull Racing’s RB12 F1 car on a “tour”, starting from the Wafiq Senno Street, through the Meer Majid Arslan Street, all the way to Ahmed Daouk Street.

If I’m not mistaken, this road was actually part of the Beirut F1 Grand Prix that was suggested back in 1999 (I’m still trying to get my hands on the Beirut F1 track design). Back then, we lost the bid mainly due to political reasons but I’m still hopeful that we will get a city track one day in Beirut.

F1 Beirut

Everyone will be invited to see the F1 car doing speed stretches, burnouts, donuts, and of course hear the awesome engine sounds (even though the old F1 engine sounds were much better) along the one-kilometer track.

Check out the [promotion] and stay tuned for further info.

Museums Night Was Great, But …

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Eleven museums were taking part in the 3rd edition of “Museums Night” (“La Nuit des Musees”) yesterday and opening their doors from 5 PM till midnight. The tours started at 5 sharp and free shuttle service was available for museums in Beirut every 30 minutes at specific stops.

I was a speaker at Talk20 yesterday at AUB so I thought it would be a good idea to drop by a couple of museums around 9-10 PM that way traffic wouldn’t be that bad. The first stop was at the National Museum and I was surprised to see so many people queuing to enter the museum, and the queues were as big for Nicolas Sursock and MIM, Le Musée des Minéraux in Achrafieh. I was positively surprised by the turnout and it was great seeing all these families and more importantly children eager to be part of that night but the overall experience could have been much better for 4 key reasons:

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1- Timing was bad: “La Nuit des Musees” should have been on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon rather than a Friday night. Traffic was hell and it took me an hour to get from AUB to Sursock at around 9 PM.

2- No Parking spaces: I think no one expected that many people to show up but parking lots and transportation should have been better organized. I ended up parking 1K away from the National Museum and walked mostly on the highway (no side walks) to get there.

3- No Lines & Not enough security guards: Our museums hold very unique and rare historical pieces that should not be touched by any visitor but that wasn’t the case yesterday and the blame is first on the parents and second on the lack of guards. I wasn’t as pissed as Patyl on that matter but seeing all these kids (with their parent’s approval) put their fingers on a 2,000-year-old piece was quite frustrating.

4- The smell: No one is to blame here but our rotten government (not the Ministry of Culture though). The garbage smell was terrible, just terrible!

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All in all, I think last night was a great success and I’m really glad a lot of Lebanese took part in it. We need more initiatives like this and on a more regular basis.

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PS: Pictures via Jimmy

Visiting Tripoli’s Syria Street: Wheat Market Restoration & Qahwetna Cultural Café

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Almost one year ago, an unprecedented security plan has managed to put an end to the endless rounds of fierce clashes and restore calm between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods. Fortunately, we haven’t heard of any renewed clashes ever since but Syria’s street and more specifically Tebbaneh’s wheat market needed some serious renovation.

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A lot of buildings remain damaged there but the historic market’s restoration has kicked off and the first phase was completed a couple of months ago. I went to Syria’s street to check out the market and the new cultural cafe Qahwetna that was inaugurated recently.

Just to give you an idea on how bad the market’s condition was, here’s a picture showing the difference between the non-renovated part and the renovated one. Merchants were unable to open during winter and the roof was in a very bad shape.

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Now the walls have been replaced with white stone, and the market’s roof has been completely restored. I went for a walk inside the market, it was clean, everyone was extremely friendly just like they always are in Tripoli, I got offered Kaak and coffee like 10 times and I got to meet a couple of merchants who told me about their struggle when the Lebanese Army clashed with the Islamists inside the market.

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The wheat market is long and narrow and gets really crowded during the weekend. You can find almost everything there everything from food, clothes, accessories, movies, music and other stuff for extremely cheap prices. These markets are quite popular in Tripoli where half the population lives under the poverty line and especially in Bab el Tebbaneh, which is considered Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood.

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Before leaving Tripoli, I dropped by Qahwetna, a cultural café founded on the former fighting line (Syria Street) between the two areas, where “events such as other plays, stand-up comedy gigs, rap sessions and other expressive art forms can find a platform in the neglected conflict areas in Tripoli”.

I had a coffee and another Kaake and got to meet the guys that are managing the cafe. Qahwetna is perfectly located and is a much needed space for young people to interact around peaceful ideas, have fun, and enjoy themselves.

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All in all, Tripoli has been suffering for years from development and economic deprivation despite being Lebanon’s second largest city and having all the necessary components to become a second economic capital. Almost half of Tripoli’s population is poor and lives under poor conditions and unemployment rates are high.

Tripoli and more importantly Syria’s street needs small initiatives like the Wheat Market restoration, the opening of a cultural cafe, cultural events like the one MARCH organized last year etc. We need to keep in mind that that the problems in Tripoli are not stirred or generated by fanaticism or extremism but it’s the lack of opportunities and under-development that is suppressing any hope for the youth, leading them to resort to violence.

cemetery Bab el Tebbaneh’s cemeteries

Eco-Friendly Camping Site Inaugurated in Kab-Elias Town (Bekaa)

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Qab Elias is a beautiful town located in the Bekaa valley 15 km away from Zahle and 45 km from Beirut. Qab Elias is on the same road that takes you to Ammiq and Kefraya and is considered one of the largest cities there. The town has two noticeable landmarks: a medieval castle and a mysterious rock-cut altar. The castle dates back from the 12th century whereas the rock is thought to be from the late Hellenistic or early Roman times.

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I was invited last weekend to the town for the opening of an eco-friendly camping site (Scouts city) that was built over four months by the Qab Elias municipality. The land which was previously deserted was reconditioned and transformed into a green camping site with eco-friendly standards to help preserve nature and promote green spaces. The camping site includes around 7 small caravans that are all equipped with solar lighting and heating system to save energy.

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I loved the idea and I wanted an opportunity to visit the town closely so I went there and was truly surprised by the turnout. Aside from the town’s locals and heads of municipalities, the event was public, everyone was invited to attend and a large campfire was organized in the middle of the camp. Freshly cooked food and baked snacks were distributed for free on all the attendees with cold and hot refreshments as a hospitable gesture.

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There were no official statements or lame political speeches, just families eating, dancing, singing and having fun. The event slowly turned into a festival where people from all sects and colors celebrated around the fireplace with music and scout shows.

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I’m sharing few pictures from the event but I wish if I had filmed the whole thing because it truly brought years back to our village celebrations in the South mainly during Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Eid el Saydeh).

If you are interested in visiting and camping in Qab Elias, contact Maher Nader (03894882).

Smoking Bun Opens in Hamra

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Yesterday the Smoking Bun guys called me to hand me an invitation for their new branch opening. When I went down to meet them, a fireman was there waiting for me with a small fire extinguisher labeled “Hamra on Fire” lol! They were also walking around Hamra stamping people to join them and “cool down the fire”.

Smoking Bun is my favorite street burger joint and is now open in Hamra near Mohammad Abdul Baki Street facing Hotel Cavalier. Its original branch is underneath Secteur in the middle of Mar Mikhail and it only offers one burger.

burger I had the double cheese burger yesterday 🙂

It’s small, simple, relatively cheap but its burger is fantastic and the fries are great as well. The meat is cooked medium (medium rare if you want to) and is covered with aged cheddar, the bun is tender and holds up nicely to the burger’s juices and it’s all topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles. The fries are not-too-crispy not-too-soft and come with a house sauce.

Smoking Bun is street food done right. The burger costs 12,000LL, the fries 5,000LL, beer is for 7,500LL and soda for 3,000LL.

You can check out my original review [here].

Hamra is SMOKING! Now open in Hamra #HamraOnFire #SmokingBun

Posted by Smoking Bun on Monday, April 4, 2016

Caravan Beirut: Lebanese Designers Taking Over Georgetown Park, Washington D.C

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More than 40 established and emerging Lebanese designers are flying all the way to Washington DC to take part in the Caravan Beirut pop-up store and showcase their talent and collections at the 4-day event (April 8-11). Caravan Beirut is a pop-up store in Washington organized by Nour Khoury and Mariana Wehbe in partnership with the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce. The initiative is also supported by the Ministry of Tourism and US Ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones who was present at the press conference last week, which I attended.

Just to give you a small brief on Nour & Mariana, Nour Khoury is the founder of Bucolik, an online digital platform for emerging Lebanese and Middle Eastern designers while Mariana Wehbe heads MW Communication, a boutique PR Agency specializing in luxury brands, fundraising & NGO Auctions.

Mariana Nour via Jamalouki

All the designers were personally handpicked by Mariana & Nour and products will vary from fashion to cooking, jewelry to handicrafts, to photography, home ware, architecture, and other marvels. The aim is to expose Lebanon’s treasures to a brand new market, empower Lebanese designers around the world, create more job opportunities, open a new trade route to the United States and more importantly give a brighter image of Lebanon.

Beirut House of Paisley

The venue in Washington will be conceptualized by famous Lebanese architect Rabih Geha and the food during the opening event will be offered by Kamal Mouzawak of the renowned food market Souk el Tayeb.

As for the designers taking part, they include jewelers such as “the Mukhi Sisters, André Marcha, Selim Mouzannar, Rania Farsoun, Bil Arabi, Nada Le Cavelier, and Madame Rêve. Photographers such as Patrick Baz, Emile Issa, Roger Moukarzel and Amin Sammakieh; and fashion designers such as Karoline Lang, Jessica K, Milia M, House of Paisley, Nour Hammour, La La Rose, Mojo Beach, Sarah’s Bag and Little Bluffers will also exhibit their work. Stationery from Choux à la Crème, artists like Michel Karsouny, and HR Design will present the best Lebanon has to offer, alongside home ware designers such as Bokja, Maison Tarazi, Nalbandian Carpets, Senteurs d’Orient, Rasha Ceramics, and Kanzaman”.

PS: A portion of Caravan Beirut’s proceeds will be donated to Skoun, a Lebanese non-profit organization that offers prevention and treatment to drug users.

mukhi Mukhi Sisters – Beirut Souks

I love the initiative and it would be great to see this concept travel around other American cities and different countries in the future. If you live in Washington DC, make sure to pass by and check out some of Beirut’s most talented and creative designers & artists.

Opening night: April 8, 6pm-9pm
Pop-up shop hours: April 9-11, 10am-7pm
Closing night: April 12, 6pm-8pm

Virtual visitors are also welcome to stop by Caravan Beirut online at Bucolik.com.

You can check out further info on the event [here].